Top 5 Revolvers For Big Game

Deer Or Cape Buffalo, Choices Abound

For double-action fans, Ruger’s Super Redhawk provides a well-built revolver for hunting.
This model features a custom 10" barrel from JRH Advanced Gunsmithing.

Our early pioneers of handgun hunting had very few choices when it came to firearms. Back in the infant stage of handgun hunting, revolvers were about the only choice and those adventurous enough to hunt game with them accomplished some mighty incredible achievements.

After all, it’s not easy getting close enough to big game for a clean, ethical harvest with a short barrel sixgun. Not much has changed in this regard. The revolver has been with us now for decades and remains a viable option for handgun hunting enthusiasts.

Even with today’s modern technology, revolvers are still much limited in range compared to rifles. But the challenge of pursuing and stalking big game within realistic revolver range remains a huge draw for many of us. The rewards are most genuine, real and gratifying.

As I reflected on my top revolver choices, I honestly couldn’t come up with only five — imagine that! I tried. So, I’m going to try to stay inbounds and look at five different revolvers with some latitude and substitutions. Thankfully, we live in a country where choices abound and many options are available. So before you send any death threats, refer to me as a communist, or threaten to burn my house down just because your favorite revolver is not mentioned — I do realize there are other wheel guns that can get the job done.

Ruger’s Super Blackhawk Hunter with UltraDot optic makes an ideal package for hunting whitetail.

Back in the USA — Ruger’s Super Blackhawk Hunter with UltraDot
optic makes an ideal package for hunting whitetail.

Warthogs are always a worthy adversary. This tusker was taken with a Ruger Super Redhawk .44 Magnum.


Super Blackhawk Hunter & Super Redhawk .44 Mag

For single-action aficionados, the Ruger Super Blackhawk has a long-proven record on the silhouette range and hunting fields. For many, this rugged, dependable revolver has tagged many head of big game and filled countless freezers full of meat. In the past, I’ve been fortunate to take mountain lion, black bear, deer, hogs and more with the .44 Mag. in Ruger’s Super Blackhawk.

The revolver can digest heavy, magnum loads all day. Grips can be changed easily and I normally have Pachmayr grips or custom versions from Gary Reeder. Those Corian grips Gary installed fit perfectly and looked sharp. Different barrel lengths are available and I lean toward longer tubes as most of my Super Blackhawks wear scopes, thanks to my aging eyes.

Over the years I’ve shot a variety of these revolvers after Mag-na-port International worked their magic on a trigger job, Mag-na-port process, along with some other embellishments. The Weigand mount and rings have always performed flawlessly — holding a Leupold scope securely in place. Any way you slice it, the Ruger Super Blackhawk makes a superb hunting revolver.

For double-action fans, Ruger provides the Super Redhawk. Launched back in 1987, this super-rugged revolver is also capable of handling a steady diet of magnum rounds thanks to the triple-locking cylinder. Many hunters welcome the integral scope cuts machined into the frame and with the supplied rings, scope mounting is painless and this system holds the optic securely.

Recently I took a Super Redhawk to Africa and used it exclusively. Jack Huntington of JRH Advanced Gunsmithing installed a 10″ barrel. Good friend Ken Kelly of Mag-na-port International did a trigger job along with some other custom work and the gun turned out to be a real shooter.

The S&W Performance Center Model 629 .44 Mag. Hunter comes
with a two-tone finish, muzzle brake and red/green dot sight.

Smith & Wesson

Performance Center Model 629

There are several models fully capable of tackling big game pursuits, especially their big 460 XVR (X-treme Velocity Revolver) Performance Center version. This model is equipped with a 10.5″ barrel and compensator. The 460 S&W Mag. is a big, straight-wall cartridge capable of taking any game on this planet. In order to handle such a round, the massive X-Frame weighs almost 84 oz. without any optics. The revolver comes standard with synthetic grips and they are nice when you touch a round off!

Between the rubber cushioned grips, weight and compensatSmith & Wesson.comor, recoil is not as bad as you might imagine. S&W also provides other versions including a 7.5″ model that also features their Performance Center-tuned action and muzzle brake. Whitetail hunters wanting to extend their range who live in a state where straight-wall only cartridges are permitted may be inclined to load up a 460 S&W Mag.

If recoil is a concern, the S&W Performance Center 629 .44 Mag. Hunter may be the ticket. This .44 Mag. revolver features a two-tone finish with muzzle brake and synthetic grips. The gun ships with a red/green dot sight or a scope can be mounted easily, thanks to the integral Picatinny rail.

I have found this double-action revolver to be one of the most accurate-shooting 44 Magnums with factory ammo. Several years ago when preparing for an Idaho bear hunt, I shot this revolver extensively and was impressed by not only the accuracy but recoil was mild due to the effective custom muzzle brake. Unfortunately no bears were encountered but I had complete confidence in the revolver if opportunity knocked.

Shooting a BFR 460 S&W Mag. off of a rest, Mark attempts to steady the crosshairs.

This Magnum Research BFR revolver features a Bisley grip with white Micarta grips.
Weigand rings hold the Bushnell optic securely in place.

Magnum Research BFR

The BFR from Magnum Research is a robust revolver built to handle straight-wall revolver and rifle cartridges including 460 S&W Mag., 450 Marlin, 45-70 Government and many others. These massive revolvers provide hunters a serious choice for big game hunting. Over the years, I’ve shot several versions of the BFR — which stands for Biggest Finest Revolver — and they have always performed flawlessly. Many shooters appreciate the free-spin pawl.

The BFR comes in both short and long cylinder models. Cartridges such as 44 Mag. and .454 Casull are available in short cylinders while the .45-70, 460 S&W and .450 Marlin are possible in their long cylinder version.

What’s really neat about their website is you can actually build your own revolver with the custom features you want and eliminate those you don’t desire. Recently I went to their “Build your own BFR” link and ordered a 460 S&W Mag. with all the features I wanted including a 10″ barrel, rosewood grips and their base mount for scope. It was a simple process even a caveman such as me could accomplish.

This build will be a custom job from their custom shop. I even had them install a Holland muzzle brake, tune the trigger to my liking along with a few other modifications. After receiving the gun I was impressed with the overall fit and finish. The grips look like they grew out of the frame. The cylinder gap was tight and the trigger pull was delightful.

Make no mistake, this gun is massive — weighing 5.89 lbs. with Leupold scope mounted. During a recent shooting session with 300-grain factory ammo, all this weight and effective muzzle brake was most welcome to my hands. By the time you read this, the custom BFR will be in Argentina loaded with 300-grain Swift ammo, looking for big water buffalo.

Hunting mountain goats with a revolver is quite a challenge.
This fine billy was taken from 61 yards with a Freedom Arms .44 Mag.

Freedom Arms Model 83 .454 Casull is a top-shelf hunting revolver.
This one features a 10" barrel with Magnabrake, Leupold 2.5-8x scope
is fitted in Weigand rings and a T’SOB mount.

Freedom Arms Model .454

Ardent revolver addicts who have spent considerable time behind the trigger of a Freedom Arms Model 83 will vehemently proclaim this is the finest single-action revolver made, barring some high-end custom job. I couldn’t make up a semi-decent argument if I tried. These revolvers feature superb fit and finish. They are available with considerable options including trigger stop, inverted muzzle crown, sight options, octagon barrel, grip choice and more. The Model 83 is built like a tank combined with the inner workings of the most elegant Swiss watch. On top of all the features, it is a most accurate revolver.

Last year I took my favorite (at the time) Freedom Arms .44 Mag. to Alaska for mountain goat. The revolver wears a 10″ octagon barrel with Rob Rowen custom dall sheep grips.

By the way, if you qualify for a senior discount coffee at McDonald’s, you may want to think twice about a mountain goat hunt. Don’t ask me why an old geezer at my age is attempting to take a mountain goat with a revolver! Trying to get within revolver range of a mountain goat high in the Alpine is not an easy task, especially for an old guy! On the third day I got real lucky and took a nice billy from 61 yards. The Model 83 has also performed well in Africa. It has a charming track record from many other hunters and has accounted for the biggest game from all huntable continents.

My new favorite is a recent acquisition in the form of a 10″ .454 Casull. Mag-na-port International installed their Magnabrake, effective in reducing recoil and muzzle flip, along with jeweling the hammer and trigger. Jack Huntington modified the grips along with some other refinements and this five-shot revolver will soon be in Africa for cape buffalo.

Revolvers have been popular with handgun hunters for decades. I’m willing to bet the farm they will be with us for a very long time.

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